Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of Charity Water, spoke at Catalyst in October. A former party planner, and NYC nightlife guru, paid to be seen drinking Vodka and wearing Rolex watches, you would think Scott would be the last person to care of people living in poverty.
Burn out, fed up, and “spiritually bankrupt,” Scott went on a 5 month trip to Africa as a photographer in conjunction with Mercy Ships. Separated from all comforts familiar to him and removed from any sense normalcy, he encountered poverty for the first time.
As he shared the rest of his story, he posed this simple question to himself: “How did I go so long without knowing? Why did I never know before?”
“It’s not because I didn’t care about the poor. It’s not because I was belligerently trying to ignore the need,” he said. “I just hadn’t been told the right story. I hadn’t been exposed to the entire truth.”
It’s been well over a month now since the Catalyst Conference and I have not been able to get his words out of my head.
I just hadn’t been told the right story. I hadn’t been exposed to the entire truth.
I can not help but think that so many people who have come to Christ, either later in life or without any testimony by another believer, might make the same statement.
Non-profit organizations are popping up all over the place these days. Being charitable, concerned about “global justice issues,” food shortages, dirty water, sex-trafficking, and the like are suddenly trendy.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am grateful for the activism, acknowledgement and generosity of so many because it truly is making an incredible difference and impacting millions of lives all over the world.
I just have one question: Do we see friends, family members, and strangers in elevators as living souls? Do we care if they know Jesus? Do we feel compelled to help them hear, see, and understand the truth and power of His Gospel?
If I looked at people in my life through the lens of eternity, would I be as motivated to share with them the good news as the millions of young adults that are so eager to bring clean water to people in poverty?
Is a soul’s destination not as critical? Is not as urgent?
I do not think I believe that people who don’t know Christ and His salvation have truly rejected Him.
I think, perhaps, they haven’t been told the entire story.
I think, maybe, they haven’t been given the whole truth.
And if that’s the one thing we know for certain, it should be the one thing we never fail to give out.
The over-arching theme of the Catalyst conference was “The Tension is Good” and each speaker to the various ways in which tension can be felt in the leaderships positions in the church or other ministries. It is inevitable. Tension will always, always, show up where there is growth, strategy, mission, and unity among team members.
Andy Stanley was the first to speak to this tension. “Tension,” he began, “is always associated with our appetites.” Then he expanded on the universal appetites that every human, much less leader, will always have to manage. Manage and not completely solve. We’ll get to that in a minute. Progress, growth, responsibility, fame, respect, achievement, winning, and the longing to be envied are the eight major appetites that will be encountered by any leader, no matter how small or large their ministry.
“There are three things to keep in mind, when understanding these tensions,” he explained.1. God created them, but sin distorted them. 2. Appetites are never fully or finally satisfied. 3. Your appetites always whisper “now,” and never “wait, later.”
In recognizing that these appetites will never be satisfied, that they know no end, sets the direction of our careers, faith, family, etc. Because they are not to be completely absolved; they are not to be “fixed.” They are to be managed, maintained, and used to sharpen the strategy already in place.
If any of us were truly honest, we would readily admit that we don’t have it all together, personally or professionally. We have missed the mark countless times; our strategy has failed. And often times, it is because there was a mishandling of tension. There were various perspectives, different opinions that were not all equally and respectfully taken into consideration.
And this is the role of the leader: to be a humble handler of insights and opportunities and to make the decision that will most benefit the whole, or in the case of the Church, that will most faithfully deliver the truth of the Gospel.
Stanley made this statement, “There are going to be opportunities that you shouldn’t take full advantage of because of the risk you take in veering from the course that God has already ordained and blessed.”
So, the challenge is this– Leaders, are you dead enough to yourself and your personal preferences, to be whole-heartedly pursuing the decision that not only points your team in the right direction, regardless of comfort, but that is most honoring to God?
I was introduced to a new band called, Gungor, last week while at Catalyst.
They’re amazing. They’re from Denver. Spread the word.
News flash– I may be one of the most insecure people you ever meet… in person. The beauty of blogging is that you can hide behind clever phrases, witty humor, and the like. But I must be honest. I fight daily to remember who’s I am, claim the new name I have received, and walk confidently in this identity that I have in Christ.
About two weeks ago, I had a dream. In this dream, I was in the Denver airport on my way to Atlanta for the Catalyst conference (i.e. my exact circumstances tomorrow morning). As I walked up to the counter to collect my boarding pass, I reached into my wallet only to discover that I didn’t have my license. I had no ID.
And just like that, no one would help me. There was nothing anyone could do. Without my license, I could not be identified. I was not permitted on the plane. I did not go to the conference.
I woke up the next morning and thought nothing of it. But, a few days later I started to get anxious. I started to have what felt like minor anxiety attacks. Thoughts like Am I really who I think/say I am? Do I believe what I say I do? If I did, would I be asking this question right now?
Hardly comforting thoughts. And yet, I had the hardest time shaking them.
It’s no coincidence that this weekend I came across notes from a Beth Moore conference I went to called “So Long Insecurity.” God’s fantastically ironic. As I reread my notes, paying special attention to things that I underlined, highlighted, and circled numerous times, I began to breathe a little easier.
I know, without a doubt, that God is up to something in my personal heart and among His people. Tens of thousands of young, passionate, and talented church leaders and influencers are about to convene for two days to discuss just how to take back the Church to it’s God and how to empower the Millennial generation to lead the revolt of change.
If you don’t think the Enemy is out to distract and deter us from showing up, be it mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, you’re not in the game.
Friends, I beg for your prayer over these next few days in Atlanta. Pray that God would show up in a mighty way; that not a single soul would leave unchanged. Pray for safety. Pray for the ability to concentrate, to understand what is being taught. Pray for visions to be cast and callings to be followed. Pray for the Church to be unified.
I’m truly grateful for each of you who read this attempt-at-a-blog. I love doing life with you, friends and strangers alike. I’m privileged to share in this journey with you.